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Disclaimer is that I don't own them. . . .warning. . . . . .

Word count:1661 --- SUE ME. . .I wasn't going to butcher it. . . .

Written for TP 2001 Movie Challenge by N:R. Levy



Decisions and Discoveries
By Shannon




A week ago, Parker had driven up to the cabin to see him. For the first time, she was able to spend hours and days around Jarod. The two of them did everything she had wanted to do for years---watch movies, take walks, talk for hours, read to each other from the various books in the cabin.

"Stay with me, Parker," Jarod asked.

But Parker realized, as she stood looking out at the mountainside, that their time together was drawing to a close. She shivered, not from the lack of warmth, but from the panic that seized her. Why? Why after all this time? Her chance for happiness was her in front of her. So why, did she feel so cold and frightened. Because the problem was with her. She had doubts, plenty of doubts. Then there was the worry. And the guilt. She looked at him and shook her head. Looking into Jarod's eyes made sense too her. When she gazed into those eyes, she forgot some of the pain she'd been carrying around. All the anger and confusion simply seemed to vanish when Jarod was around. Yet the decision was made. Parker knew what she had to do.

She stood on the porch of the log cabin, looking into the tear-filled eyes of the man she knew she loved. The normal mixture of mischievous charm and boyish confidence was gone. In its place lay emptiness and defeat.

All because of her.

The pain in his face caused an answered wrench in her heart. Yet she still couldn't utter a single word in response to his question. He countered her silence by asking again, this time with more urgency,

"Will you stay with me?"

Words she had waited to hear as a young girl, until. . . .

Another suffocating moment passed. finally, she gasped her answer. "I can't."

With the simple utterance of two seemingly insignificant words, all the hope and longing held in her heart vanished. The memories forged by years of dreams meant nothing now. Just like that, it was over.

Snow began to fall, reminding her of where she was.

I can't believe I'm doing this, she thought. Please forgive me for hurting you.

"There has to be a way," he said. "I don't understand."

"No---"

"I'll give you time to think. Maybe all you need is time."

"I've had time," she replied. "I'm sorry."

"This can't be happening," he said. "Not like this. Not now."

She stopped herself from apologizing. "I don't know what else to say."

"Say anything except no. Say there's a chance. There has to be, right? Say anything. Give me some bit of hope."

"I don't know."

He choked out her name. "There has to be a chance. After everything. You know how I feel, and I know---at least I thought I knew---how you feel."

"You do," she said, afraid of what he would say next.

"Then why? Why are you doing this?"

"I've explained it to you."

"There has to be another reason. Something that makes better sense. Tell me you don't like my sense of humor. Or the way I dress. Or something like that. Give me something that makes sense."

"I just----" And then came her tears.

"Oh, Parker, I'm sorry, " he said, his hands cupping hers. "I didn't mean to say all that. I'm sorry. Please, don't look away."

When she glanced up again, she marveled that his smile looked as warm now as it had when she first met him. Even years later, she could remember it- the carefree and engaging grin that had captivated her as a young girl. The smile that could still appear anytime she closed her eyes in the midst of life's little problems.

But this was not one of life's little problems; this was her whole life. Her whole life shattering before her very eyes.

"I'm sorry," he said again. I shouldn't go on like this--I'm just making it harder for you. I just don't know how to let you go."

Her tears began to fall faster now, and she knew she was losing control. She didn't want to cry-not this way, not if they were saying their final good-byes.

"I'm trying to think of something more to say than sorry," she said.

"You don't have to. I just want to hold you and tell you I love you."

How can you? she asked herself.

As she embraced him, she searched for the right thing to say. There were so many words she wanted to utter, so much of her soul she needed to bare. But the words failed her.

"I'm never going to stop loving you," he whispered in her ear. "That's a promise."

How can you say that? her mind screamed.

She knew if she didn't leave soon, her resolve would weaken. She would retract her words and reaffirm her undying love, only to resume the battle of heart and mind that had brought her to this point in the first place.

"I have to go, Jarod," she said, pulling away from him. "The storm---"

"I know."

She took a few steps away from him, then turned. "I'm going to make a promise to you, too." she declared. "I'm never giving up on you. Every night I'm going to think about you and that you find that which you want most."

"I found it," he replied, wiping his eyes. "You."

I know, she thought as she carefully stepped down the snow covered steps leading off the porch. Why does this have to feel so wrong--when I know I'm doing the right thing?

The word promise seemed to echo off the surrounding snowbanks.

She walked toward her car, urging her feet and her heart not to turn back.

"Don't forget me," his voice rose over the howling winds.

With a turbulent heart that mirrored the approaching storm, she believed they would be the last words she would ever hear him say.

****

A pleasant and warming fire crackled and lit the otherwise dark room. Jarod could hear the wind outside wailing into the night, confirming the newscaster's prediction about the storm. It had started the night that Parker had left him and would still be pounding the area for the next few days. Jarod watched the fire burn low and thought once more of Parker.

"I want you back," he whispered, as the fire snapped back at him, and the winds outside hummed.

Parker drove for four hours until she couldn't take it anymore. Then she took the next exit off the thruway and pulled into a fast food parking lot. In the silence of her car she wept tears that seemed to bleed from her eyes. He used the L-word. He actually said he loves me. Parker wiped her eyes, then put the car in reverse and backed out of her parking spot. She felt weary and confused and unsure what to do anymore.

The miles of road stretched out before her. Every time Parker blinked, she could recall Jarod's melancholy smile. With every breath she took, she remembered the lostness of his eyes.

***

A Year Later

Parker walked up to the small gravestone and laid a creamy white rose on the frozen blades of grass. The weather had turned bitterly cold, but so far no snow had fallen. Parker wondered if they would get their usual helping of snow.

It had taken her a long time to get the nerve to come back to the cemetery. Now that she was here, all she could picture was the smiling face of her mother.

She wondered if her spirit was floating above her as she looked at her name on the stone. Or perhaps she stood beside her, holding her hand, telling her everything would be all right.

Parker couldn't help believing that somewhere either close or far away, her mother could see her. That she knew about everything-how her life had changed, how she still loved the one man she walked away from before she lost him, like everyone else in her life.

"That's why I left him, I was scared," Parker whispered.

"He wants you back, little one," a voice whispered as a silent wind chilled her as she walked back to her car.

***

When the banging knock sounded, Jarod thought a tree had fallen against the front door. But it wasn't a crash, because it continued, again and again. Knock, knock, knock.

Dressed in black pajama bottoms and an old but comfortable sweatshirt, his hair long and falling in his eyes, the month-old thickness of beard on his face, Jarod stumbled to the door, wondering who it could be.

The knocking continued.

He opened the door to the fury of wind and snow and saw outside a figure bundled up with a hood and parka and boots. He could only see her clear blue eyes, questioning eyes, but instantly he knew who it was.

Parker.

She knocked and knocked wondering if he had left because of the storm, but then the door opened. Before her in the doorframe stood the very man she loved.

A stunned and weary Jarod looked back at her in shock. For a minute, he didn't say anything and didn't move. He just stared blankly at her as if he was waking up from a long sleep.

"Parker?" he finally said, ushering her inside.

And before he could say anything else, before she could take off her coat or pull down her hood, Parker embraced the man she so dearly needed to see and hold. He hugged her back and they stood that way at the open doorway, with puffs of snow drifting inside.

"Thank you," she whispered when she finally spoke.

He chuckled, not understanding her words. "Why thank me?

"You kept your promise--you never stopped loving me."

"There was a reason you came into my world so many years ago. I would have always loved you, Parker, always."











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